Ray Bradbury has a vacation house in Palm Springs, California, in the desert at the base of the Santa Rosa mountains. It’s a Rat Pack–era affair, with a chrome-and-turquoise kitchen and a small swimming pool in back. A few years ago, Bradbury let me look through some files stored in his garage as part of my research for a biography. Inside a tiny storage closet I found a compact filing cabinet covered in dust and fallen ceiling plaster, which contained, amid a flurry of tear sheets and yellowing book contracts, a folder marked paris review. In the folder was the manuscript of a remarkable unpublished interview that this magazine had conducted with the author in the late 1970s.
It’s unclear why the interview was abandoned, but according to an attached editorial memo, editor George Plimpton found the first draft “a bit informal in places, maybe overly enthusiastic.” Bradbury, who will turn ninety in August, cannot recall why he never finished the interview; he figures that when he was asked to revisit it, he had moved on to other projects. But with the rediscovery of the manuscript, he agreed to give it another go and bring it up to date. Since the original interviewer, William Plummer, a Paris Reviewcontributing editor, died in 2001, we supplemented the original sessions with new conversations.
Read it. Here’s one of my favorite parts:
I often use the metaphor of Perseus and the head of Medusa when I speak of science fiction. Instead of looking into the face of truth, you look over your shoulder into the bronze surface of a reflecting shield. Then you reach back with your sword and cut off the head of Medusa. Science fiction pretends to look into the future but it’s really looking at a reflection of what is already in front of us. So you have a ricochet vision, a ricochet that enables you to have fun with it, instead of being self-conscious and superintellectual.